Shree Samarth Ramdas (Marathi language: Rāmdās) was a noted 17th-century Brahmin saint and spiritual poet of Maharashtra. He is most remembered for his Advaita Vedantist text, the Dasbodh. Ramdas was a devotee of Hanuman and Rama.
The birth name of Samartha Ramdas Swami was Narayan Suryaji Thosar. He was born on Ramnavami (in the month of Chaitra) in 1530 (Shalivahana era), 1608 CE, in Jamb village, Ambad taluk, Jalna district, on the banks of the river Godavari in Deshastha Rugvedi Brahmin family of Jamadagni Goatra. His parents were Suryaji Pant and Ranubai; his elder brother was Gangadhar Swami. His family, for many generations, were worshippers of Surya (Sun) and Ram.
His father died when Ramdas was eight, turning him into an introvert. He was engrossed in thoughts of God and tried to find out how to meet God. At age 12, Ram appeared to him and advised him to count the 13 lettered Ram tarak Mantra 108 times at least once a day. Then Ram accepted him as his disciple, naming him Ramdas.
At 11, he attained enlightenment and advised by Lord Ram, started new sector on the banks of the river Krishna.
At 12, while he was standing on the podium during his marriage ceremony, he heard the Brahmins chanting wedding mantras that included the word “Savadhan." This word has other meanings, including "Beware!” Immediately after hearing it, he knew what it meant; he fled the scene and went to the holy city, Nasik, where he started his worship of Ram, which lasted for 12 years.
During childhood, Narayan was fond of vigorous physical activity. He loved to exercise and was well built and intelligent. He was a firm believer of God and stood by his principles. His persona shone with devotion for Hanuman and Ram. He felt compassion for the common people. From his childhood, he was thinking about how to relieve the masses. Marriage and family were not his priorities, preferring the life of a monk.
Pilgrimage and movement
In 1554 (Shalivahana era) or 1632 CE, he left Takli to start his spiritual journey and his movement. He journeyed for 12 years throughout India, observing the people. The frequent floods and famines and the wanton and indiscriminate attacks by Muslim rulers, had destroyed society. Based on these experiences he wrote two books, Asmani Sultani and Parachakraniroopan, detailing his observations. These are the only two books in Indian Saint literature that record the conditions of those times.
During Shree Samarth’s period outsiders were ruling India. The repercussions of their authoritarian rule were devastating. The Indians themselves were following in their footsteps for petty gains and regime opponents were executed. The Brahmans and the warrior caste had joined with the foreign rulers, while the traders worked with the bureaucrats to further their business. Shree Samarth was very much distressed with the plight of the people and decided to do what he could to succor the people.samartha also had a follower named kalyan who helped to write manache shlok
Ramdas got Darśana from Shree Dattatreya in Mahurgad.
(Sikh Guru) shri guru Hargobind sahib ji
According to Sikh tradition based on an old Punjabi manuscript Panjah Sakhian, Ramdas met Guru Hargobind (1595-1644) at Srinagar in the Garhval hills. The meeting, corroborated in a 1793 Marathi source, Ramdas Swami`s Bakhar, by Hanumant Swami, probably took place in the early 1630s during Ramdas`s pilgrimage travels in the north and Guru Hargobind`s journey to Nanakmata in the east. It is said that as they met, Hargobind had just returned from a hunting excursion.
"I had heard that you occupied the Gaddi of Guru Nanak", said Swami Ramdas.
"Guru Nanak was a Tyagi sadhu - a saint who had renounced the world. You are wearing arms and keeping an army and horses. You allow yourself to be addressed as Sacha Patshah, the True King. What sort of a sadhu are you?" asked the Maratha saint.
Guru Hargobind replied, "Internally a hermit, and externally a prince. Arms mean protection to the poor and destruction of the tyrant. Baba Nanak had not renounced the world but had renounced Maya, i.e.
These words of Guru Hargobind found a ready response in Ramdas who, as quoted in Pothi Panjak Sakhian, spontaneously said, "this appealeth to my mind - Yeh hamare man bhavti hai" 
After finishing the pilgrimage he returned to Mahabaleshwar. Then, at Masur, he celebrated the jayanti of Lord Ram with thousands of others. He gathered people to advance his ultimate goal of returning the Hindu religion to its original form after its decline during hundreds of years of Muslim rule. He later found statues of Lord Ram in the river Krishna near Angapur. Ramdas chose the village of Chafal and initiated his mission in 1566 (Shalivahana era), or 1644 AD. He installed a statue of Lord Ram and started celebrating the festival of 'Birth of Lord Ram' (Ram Janmotsava) with fanfare.
He built a temple at Chafal and installed Lord Ram's Murti ceremoniously according to the Hindu tradition. He celebrated the birth day of Lord Ram that year at the newly built temple. He also established a temple of the Goddess Pratap Durga at the Pratapgad Fort.
His teaching of courage, patience and faith in the face of adversity helped people.
He chose Hanuman, who was extremely strong and valiantly faced enemies and emerged victorious, as a role model for the common man to combat murderous opponents. Lord Ram, the great archer, who killed Ravana and helped the Gods who were captured by him, was another role model. He felt that their personalities and characteristics would be ideal for the masses.
He established temples of Hanuman in towns and villages and preached the message of exercising regularly for strength. Out of hundreds of these Hanuman temples 11 are specially mentioned by him as 11 Maruti.
|Name of Village||Location||Year|
|Chaphal Vir Maruti Temple||Satara||1648|
|Chaphal Das Maruti Temple||Satara||1648|
The Hanuman Temples established by him are found in most of the part of India such as Jaipur in Rajasthan, Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Tanjore in Tamil Nadu and Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh.
On reaching Tanjavar, he was received by Vyankojiraje, the brother of Shree Shivaji Maharaj, the King of Tanjavar. Shree Samarth accepted him as his disciple. At Tanjavar, revered religious figure Pundit Raghunath became his disciple.
Tanjaore math was the first one established by him when he came to south India for Sethu Himachal Padayatra. Ramdas saw that picture in his lifetime, contrary to the tradition of those days. Many special stories of him are there.
He taught the youth to band together to combat despots and plunderers. He stressed the importance of both strength and knowledge, insisting that the weak could not bring about change.
He said that the lazy would feel good temporarily, but that hard working individuals would stay happy.
He highlighted the warriors' role of establishing the rule of righteousness (dharma) in running society. He gave their duty towards society and martyrdom the utmost importance.
He stressed the primary importance of looking after the family's needs and that societal demands were secondary.
Ramdas established study centers across India, teaching his path. These created many disciples and followers.
He encouraged women to participate in religious work and gave them positions of authority. He had 18 female disciples. Vennabai managed the study center at Miraj and Akkabai at Chafal and Sajjangad. He once reprimanded an old man who was against women's participation in religious affairs by saying that everyone came from a woman's womb and those who did not understand the importance of this were unworthy of being called men. He said that respecting the role of women and giving them equal status was good for the growth of a healthy society.
He abhorred distinctions based on caste and creed, preaching that all human beings were equal. He stood for the abolition of social classes and for the promotion of worship.
During his last years, Ramdas told his disciples, "Even if my body will not be with you, I will always remain near you through my books which will guide you in every situation".
Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and Ramdas
[[File:Sajjangad.jpg|thumb|Sajjangad where Samarth Ramadas was invited by Chatrapati Shivaji to reside, now a pilgrimage.] Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj gave a Sanad of Sajjangad to Samarth Ramdas Swami. Chatrapati Sambhaji was a devout Hindu and had great respect for all contemporary saints from all religions. Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj's son Sambhaji Maharaj later built a samadhi temple for Ramdas Swami on Sajjangad upon the latter's death.
Shree Samarth produced volumes of output. These include a condensed version of the Dasbodha, Karunashtakas, Sunderkand and the Yuddhakand of the epic Ramayana, many Abhangas and Owis, Poorvarambh, Antarbhav, Atmaram, Chaturthman, Panchman, Manpanchak, Janaswabhawgosavi, Panchsamasi, Saptsamasi, Sagundhyan, Nirgundhyan, Junatpurush, Shadripunirupan, Panchikaranyog, Manache Shlok, Shreemat Dasbodha and many unpublished works.
His writing was so simple that illiterates understood it if read aloud to them. He took a straightforward, forceful and unhesitating approach. He used to write or dictate quickly and used Hindi, Urdu, Arabic or Sanskrit words so long as his writing remained simple. He introduced new words to these languages. Many of his sentences have become widely used the Marathi language.
He produced considerable literature in verse form in Marathi.
- Shri Manāche Shlok, advises ethical behaviour and love for God and a large volume
- Dasbodh, provides advice on both spiritual and practical topics.
- Shri Māruti Stotra, a poem in praise of Hanuman,
- 11-Laghu Kavita
- Shadripu Nirupan
- Maan Panchak
- Raamayan (Marathi-Teeka)
His most popular composition is the Marathi Aarti to Lord GaneshSukhakarta Dukhaharta. He also composed several other Aartis such as Satrane Uddane Hunkaar Vadani to Lord Hanuman and Panchanan haivahan surabhushan lila to Lord Khandoba. He has written Aarti of almost all Gods. His most famous work, Dasbodh has been translated into most of the prominent Indian languages. The original copy of Dasbodh, scribed by his disciple, is in the Domgaon Mutt.
He started the Shree Samarth religious sect to work for the liberation of India and for the renewal of true spirituality. His followers were neophytes who had not been corrupted by politics. He supported King Shivaji, who was trying to overthrow the Muslim rulers.
He established Math (Holy places where like minded religious people could reside and work) at many locations. He chose leaders of the maths who were multifaceted, spiritual, set high moral standards and were able to work for the society and were politically adept.
Samarth was of the opinion that saints who sit quietly in the midst of suffering were a shame on mankind and unfit to be saints. He proclaimed this to the heads of the Math. He thereby blended spirituality, social work and politics. In the end, his movement was successful.
Ramdas moved around quite a lot and used several Ghal (Marathi: घळ), small caves used for meditation. The famous ones include:
- Ramghal, on Sajjangad
- Morghal, at Morbag village near Sajjangad
- Tondoshi Ghal, North of Chaphal
- Taakli, near Nashik
- Chandragiri, opposite Vasantgad, near Karad
- Helwak, near Helwak village
- Shiganwadi, near Chandragiri
- Shivthar Ghal, near Mahad
- Chafal was the centre of his movement.
Ramdas established Aadya Chafal Math first and then in year 1648 founded Shree Ram Mandir, Das Maruti Mandir and Veer Maruti Mandir.
[[File:Sajjangad samadhi.jpg|thumb|Samadhi of Samarth Ramdas at Sajjangad. ]] Ramdas died on the ninth day of Magh, 1603 (Shalivahana era), 1681 CE at Sajjangad at age 73. For five days prior to this he had ceased eating fruits and drinking water called as "Prayopaveshana". He was continuously chanting the taraka mantra "Shriram Jay Ram Jay Jay Ram" in front of Ram's Murti which was brought from Tanjore. Uddhav Swami and Akka Swami were in his service.
The funeral was performed by Uddhav Swami. The Samadhi shrine was built by Chatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj.
Samarth Ramdas had many disciples. Kalyan Swami worked as a writer for Ramdas, recording his songs and prayers. Ramdas tested him in many ways before giving him this responsible position. Other noteworthy disciples included
- Kalyan Swami
- Udhhav Swami
- Venna Swami
- Akka Swami
- Bheem Swami Shahapurkar
- Divakar Swami
- Dinkar Swami
- Anant Buwa Ramdasi – Methavadekar
- Anant Kavi
- Anant Mauni
- Acharya Gopaldas
- Dinkar Swami
- Dattaray Swami
- Vasudev Swami
- Bhagwan Shreedhar Swami
- Sethuram Bawa
In the 20th century, Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Keshav Baliram Hedgevar, Gurudev Ranade took inspiration from him. Spiritual and social personalities follow his philosophy. Nana Dharmadhikari promoted Ramdas' teachings. Dasbodh was used by Bhausaheb Maharaj, who founded the Inchegeri Sampradaya, for instruction of his students. Dasbodh has been translated and published by American followers of Ranjit Maharaj, who belonged to the Inchegeri Sampradaya.
Written by Dr. Analpa Paranjpe
The birth name of Samartha Ramdas Swami was Narayan Suryaji Thosar. He was born in 1608 AD, in the Jamb village in the Ambad Taluka of Aurangabad District, on the banks of the Godavari river. His family had been worshipping the Sun and Lord Ram for many generations.
During childhood Narayan was fond of all vigorous and physical games. He was very intelligent too. He was a very firm believer and stood by his principles. His whole persona shone with devotion for Hanuman and Lord Ram. Having devotion and strength of character, he felt sad for the common people who got stuck in the eternal cycle of Life and Death. Right from his childhood he was thinking about how to relieve masses from this cycle. Marriage and settling down with his own family was not his priority. He preferred life of a hermit.
At the age of 11, he attained enlightenment. He was visited by Lord Ram himself. Lord Ram told him, “Go to the banks of the river Krishna and start a new religion. The descendant of the Shisodia dynasty is going to take an avatar. You will guide him with devotion.”
To satisfy his mother’s wishes, Narayan agreed to marry. He was 12 years of age. But as soon as he heard the word ‘Savadhan’ (caution) in the wedding vows, he became cautious and ran away. He went straight to Panchavati, in Nashik district. This was the place where Lord Ram, his wife Sita and his brother Laxman had stayed during their 14 years in exile (Vanvas). Then he went to Takli village near Nashik, where the rivers Godavari and Nandini meet, for a life of extreme devotion and spiritual study.
He would wake up before sunrise, have refreshment and bath, followed by exercise. This special exercise consists of ‘ Surya Namaskar’ a series of positions each of which prays to the Sun. Then stand in the river with the water reaching waist height and chant the 13 syllable mantra of Lord Ram – “Shri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram”. 13 is considered an auspicious number. This was chanted until the Sun reached the top of his head (noon). Then he would ask for food (madhukari) in only 5 houses. Then offer a small part to Lord Ram before actually eating. In the afternoon he would go to Lord Ram’s temple in the forest and extensively read spiritual books and also listen to spiritual knowledge of the elders who visited the temple. He extensively studied the Ramayan written by the Saint Valmiki. This is great epic of the life and death of Lord Ram, one of the oldest scriptures ever written about Lord Ram. In the evening he attended lectures on spirituality and programs of songs praising Lord Ram and narration of his good qualities and his stories. At night he listened to Bhajans, a special kind of devotional songs. He prayed to Lord Ram before sleeping.
He followed this routine continuously for a period of 12 years. He uttered Lord Ram’s name 130,000,000 times. As a result of such a tremendous devotion, he was gifted with 8 powers by Lord Ram himself, who appeared and asked him to start a new religion. Lord Ram himself gave him the Title of Samartha (most competent/capable/proficient). Everyone forgot his original name ‘Narayan’ and started calling him ‘Samartha Ramdas’. Ramdas literally means ‘the most loyal devotee of Lord Ram’.
In the Marathi year 1554 or 1632 AD, he left the village of Takli to start his spiritual journey and also to start his new religion. For the next 12 years, he journeyed through all corners of India. He minutely observed the condition of the people across India. He realized that the frequent floods and famines and the attacks by the Muslims whenever they wished, which were actually helped by our own people, had destroyed the society and social life of the people. Everyone was scared and depressed. Based on these experiences he wrote 2 books named “Asmani Sultani” and “Parachakraniroopan” detailing his minute observation of the common man. These are the only 2 books in the whole of the Saint literature of India which describe and record the condition of the people at their times.
Ramdas Swami felt very bad to see the society depending so much on luck and providence. But his mission of world peace would not let him sit quietly. He knew for a new society to take shape he will have to strive very hard for self governance, a new religion to build self confidence in the people.
Samarth Ramdas Swami chose ‘Chafal’ for initiating this mission and started this work in 1644 AD. He installed a statue of Lord Ram and started celebrating the festival of ‘Birth of Lord Ram’ (Ram janmotsava) with fanfare.
His teaching of not losing patience and having faith in face of adversities, being fearless in difficult situation helped people to deal with dangerous conditions. He chose Hanuman, who was extremely strong, who would get furious when facing the enemy and act accordingly as a role model for the common man to combat the opponents. Lord Ram, the great Archer, who killed Ravana, and helped the Gods who were captured by him, was another role model he chose for the common man. He felt that their personalities and characteristics would be good for the masses to follow.
He established temples of Hanuman at towns and villages and passed the message of exercising for strength to the youth. He also taught the young to get together and fight the enemy. He stressed the importance of strength along with use of knowledge, insisting that the weak has no place in the world.
Emphasizing the role of hard work he says that the lazy would feel good for the time being, but it is the hard working individual who would be happy in the end. He also highlighted the warriors’ role in running the society smoothly. Their duty towards society and martyrdom for the country was given utmost importance.
While talking about the country, the society, he has not neglected the family life on an individual. In some of his verses he has told the importance of bringing up a healthy family, looking after the family needs. It is wise to look at the societal demands only after fulfilling the demands by the family.
Samartha Ramdas Swami established many study centers all over the country, where his teachings and preaching were taught. These created many disciples and followers all over the country.
He understood the importance of the role of women in a harmonious society. He encouraged the women to participate in the religious work, and gave them positions of authority. He had 18 staunch women disciples. Wennabai took care of the study center at Miraj, Akkabai took charge of Chafal and Sajjangad. He strongly reprimanded an old man who was against women participation by saying that everyone came from a woman’s womb and those who do not understand the importance of this are not worthy of being called a man.
Respecting the role of women in the society and giving them equal position was good for the future of a healthy society according to Samartha Ramdas Swami.
He abhorred distinction based on caste and creed. He preached that all human beings are equal. Socialism, secular society was his dream and firm belief.
During this perion, Raja Shivaji was in the process of establishing ‘Hindavi Swaraj’. Samartha Ramdas Swami through his teachings, his impact on society and especially Shivaji Maharaj helped him to do so. He was elated when Shivaji Maharaj defeated the Moughals and was enthroned.
Samartha Ramdas Swami and Shivaji Maharaj met in a historical meeting at Shinganwadi near Chafal in 1649 AD. Shivaji Maharaj became his disciple and they met many times thereafter. Praising the Raja Samartha Ramdas Swami says that the religion in Maharashtra still exists because of Shivaji Maharaj and the there is none other like him who would defend the religion. The way one cant measure the water in the river, or the brightness of the sun likewise no one can win against Shivaji Maharaj.
Shivaji Maharaj sent his son, Sambhajiraje to get guidance from Samartha Ramdas Swami at Sajjangad. After Shivaji Maharaj’s demise Samartha Ramdas Swami in his letter to Sambhajiraje wrote : Remember Shivaji, and be remembered on this earth as the one who has achieved great heights.
By this time Samartha Ramdas Swami had a feeling that his days on this earth are coming to an end. He sermonized to his disciples: even if my body will not be with you, I will always remain near you through my books which will guide you in every situation.
Samartha Ramdas Swami left for his heavenly abode on the 9th day of Magh in 1603 (Marathi year), 1681 AD at Sajjangad.
His contribution to the world of literature is unparalleled. His books like ‘Dasbodh’, ‘Manache Shlok’, ‘Atmaram’, ‘Manapanchak’, ‘Anandavanbhuvan’, ‘Shivakalyanaraja’ and many more are very relevant even today. They are guiding lights in today’s troubled times.
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